You’re leading a team that is working tirelessly to create an exceptional learning program. Everyone is pouring their expertise and creativity into every aspect of design and production. As the project progresses, cracks begin to appear. Misalignments emerge. Things start to fall apart. Your team starts working longer hours, even on weekends. The program feels disjointed. Your timeline feels too short. Your budget looks like it could go over. Morale starts to tank. If things continue like this, it’ll impact your culture more deeply. You ask yourself, “What went wrong? What could have prevented us from going off the rails?” 

Between the excitement of imagining and prototyping a new program to delivering that program on a large scale is the often-overlooked Playbook phase of Learning Experience Design. The Playbook is the key to avoiding pitfalls and is the unsung hero of an effective LX design process. 

What is a Playbook?

The Playbook is the comprehensive documentation of processes, guidelines, and standards that in total ensures consistency, cohesion, and efficiency throughout the course design and development journey. It becomes the reference point that aligns everyone on the team, regardless of their role or level of expertise.

The Playbook phase may not be the most exciting part of the learning experience design process, but it is undeniably crucial. It serves as the linchpin between the creative early stages and the production-heavy aspects of scaling a program. It also holds the power to keep your team aligned and program development on track.

In this phase, everything you’ve researched, synthesized, and prototyped comes together in a comprehensive documentation of your work. It’s a focus point, an opportunity to simplify, and a tool to organize and share critical information about what you are doing, how you are doing it, for whom, and why.

Full-scale program development diagram

The Playbook phase is the linchpin between early design and full-scale program development.
Click here for more information about the other phases of the Jackrabbit LX process.

Your Playbook enables you to scale. You will always have an answer to the question, “how do we do this, exactly?” If you don’t, that’s a good time to get the team together, figure out what’s missing, and add it to your Playbook.

What Sections to Include in Your Playbook

But what should you include in your Playbook? Well, like so many things in our work, it depends. I’m not big into recipe books, exact directions, or setting unbreakable rules. Every project is unique and so is every Playbook. With that in mind, here are the parts of the Playbook that are consistent no matter what your project looks like. 

One thing to also keep in mind is that the Playbook is a living document that will be iterated on as projects evolve and decisions are made or adjusted.

With those caveats out of the way, here are some typical sections that you could use in your program’s Playbook.

Introduction

In this section, provide an overview of your Playbook, its purpose, and its significance in ensuring consistency and quality throughout course design and development.

  • Consider your audience. This section is for all stakeholders across your project, and this section needs to make sense to all of them. 
  • Explain the process followed to agree upon the elements of the Playbook, highlighting key discussions and decisions made during its development.

Program vision and goals

Here, you’ll articulate the overarching vision for your learning program and the specific goals and objectives that align with it.

  • Articulate a clear vision through a North Star statement and its relationship to the organization’s objectives.
  • Break down the vision into measurable and achievable goals and objectives.

Organizational goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)

Align the program’s design with the broader organizational objectives and establish measurable indicators of success.

  • Identify the specific goals and objectives of the organization that the program aims to support and contribute to.
  • Map the course’s vision and goals to the overarching goals of the organization.
  • Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure the effectiveness and impact of the course.
  • Ensure that the course design and learning outcomes align with the desired outcomes and KPIs of the organization.

Learner personas

The learner persona is a profile about a specific type of learner who will benefit from your program. Detailed learner personas to provide deeper insights into all different learner types and their aspirations and needs. 

  • Summarize the research you’ve done about your learners. 
  • Link to relevant source data, both qualitative and quantitative.
  • Create multiple personas to capture the diversity of learners and help you create an equitable design.

Learning outcomes

Articulate actionable and measurable learning outcomes that align with the course’s vision and goals.

  • Craft specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) learning outcomes.
  • Map out a sequential arrangement of learning outcomes to ensure a logical progression of knowledge and skills.

Assessment design

Describe formative and summative assessment strategies that measure the learning outcomes.

  • Describe how students will receive ever-present feedback throughout their learning journey. 
  • Utilize diverse assessment methods such as quizzes, projects, discussions, and case studies.
  • Provide clear assessment criteria and rubrics to guide learners and ensure transparency in evaluation.

Curriculum design

Determine instructional approaches that suit the learning outcomes and learner personas.

  • Structure course content logically and in an engaging manner.
  • Describe guidelines and examples for instruction. 

Learning experience design strategy

Document the strategic aspects of designing a compelling learning experience. 

  • Summarize the design guidelines.
  • Provide links to the learning science research that informs the design.
  • Detail the learning model flow and how it connects to the blueprint used to track development progress.
  • Provide links to templates and examples of templates and tools, such as a storyboard template.
  • Detail repeatable instructional strategies, such as case studies, real-life examples, and interactive elements.

Collaborative learning

Promote collaboration among learners through discussion forums, group projects, and peer feedback.

  • Establish clear guidelines and expectations for collaboration.
  • Create opportunities for learners to share perspectives, learn from each other, and develop teamwork skills.

Accessibility

In order to ensure the learning experience is accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities prepare documentation of requirements.

  • Capture specific guidelines and best practices for designing accessible content and interactions, covering areas like alternative text, headings, color contrast, keyboard accessibility, and multimedia accessibility.
  • Emphasize the importance of inclusive language and writing styles for content usability, with examples of annotated writing samples showcasing effective inclusive writing practices.
  • Include guidelines for creating visually accessible content, including considerations for layout, typography, color usage, and visual hierarchy. Links to visual resources adhering to accessibility standards.
  • Address course compatibility with various assistive technologies and platforms to ensure accessibility for all learners.

Media

Provide guidelines for media development to ensure consistency in visual and audio elements.

  • Provide examples and best practices for creating engaging videos, infographics, animations, and interactive content.
  • Identify suitable tools and templates for media creation, considering accessibility and compatibility.

Technology

Catalog the selection and utilization of technologies and platforms for course delivery and management.

  • Establish guidelines and best practices for efficient use and development within the LMS and other critical platforms.
  • Detail accessibility standards, data security, and scalability considerations for the LMS and other critical platforms.

Writing guidelines

Incorporate accessibility and inclusive writing practices to ensure content usability.

  • Provide annotated writing samples as examples of effective writing styles.
  • Define general style requirements for consistency in language, tone, and formatting.
  • Integrate industry and organization-specific terms as part of organizational requirements.
  • Include standards to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in all language throughout the program.

Graphic design

Establish visual design standards to create a cohesive and visually appealing course experience.

  • Compile links to visual resources, including images, videos, and icons.
  • Define guidelines for media development, including layout, typography, and color usage.
  • Include standards to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in all forms of visual representation throughout the program.

Workflow and project management

Define communication practices and tools to facilitate effective collaboration among team members.

  • Establish project management practices, including task allocation, timelines, and progress tracking.
  • Implement asset-tracking practices to manage course components, resources, and revisions.
  • Provide templates and examples of a detailed course blueprint for planning and tracking.

A plan for regular project feedback

Establish mechanisms for gathering feedback throughout the course design and development process.

  • Implement regular check-ins and feedback sessions with stakeholders, subject matter experts, and the project team to ensure ongoing alignment and collaboration.
  • Set up feedback loops to collect input and suggestions from learners or pilot groups during the course creation phase.
  • Create opportunities for iterative feedback cycles to incorporate improvements and address potential issues early on.
  • Utilize feedback tools and platforms to facilitate collecting, organizing, and analyzing feedback data.
  • Incorporate feedback into the Playbook to document key insights, lessons learned, and areas for future improvement.

Make the Playbook Yours

You may have spotted a few things you’d do differently or would add. By all means, take this and make it yours. There is no perfect way. The biggest mistake is skipping the Playbook altogether. 

How Jackrabbit LX Can Help

Improving a learning experience can be transformative for organizations of all kinds, whether you’re trying to improve sales, employee productivity or encourage teamwork among employees or students. Jackrabbit LX has helped universities and corporations create the most effective and engaging learning experiences to help them achieve their learner’s goals and KPIs.

Our LX experts understand the importance of collaboration and communication, and our tried-and-tested process helps organizations avoid the typical obstacles when it comes to learning experience design. We’ve tailored learning experiences for organizations like Medtronic, Boston University, and Edinno.

Contact us today to find out how we can help with your learning experience needs!

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